The lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM) has been lifted.
Until now, MSM were prohibited from donating blood at any time. However from today (January 16), a man who last had sex with another man more than one year ago will now be allowed to donate, as long as he meets the other blood donor selection criteria.
Any man who has had sex with another man within the last 12 months will still be prohibited from donating.
"In June of last year, I accepted the recommendations of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) to change their blood donation deferral policies for men who have sex with men. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the IBTS for its work over the past six months, which today sees these recommendations brought to fruition within the timescale agreed," commented the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
According to the Department of Health, this change in policy came about after ‘detailed consideration' of the issues involved over the last two years.
"The change to a one-year deferral for MSM is supported by the most current scientific evidence available and brings Ireland into line with similar policies in the UK, Canada and elsewhere," it noted.
Meanwhile, Minister Harris reminded the public of the importance of donating blood and called on anyone eligible to come forward.
"Only 3% of the eligible population of Ireland are active blood donors, yet one in four people will require a blood transfusion at some time in their lives," he pointed out.
For more information on the IBTS and donating blood, click here